Author Topic: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?  (Read 115732 times)

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bluetoria

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2005, 05:35:58 PM »
I would think it was a combination of both. Nicholas was certainly unprepared to reign but also his physical size, as well as his more diffident character, could not match that of his father. He must have felt he had so much to live up to.

In all the discussions about him it seems (to me) that so often his humanity is cast aside and he is viewed as some kind of automaton TSAR. Perhaps in criticising his failures we are expecting more of him than can be expected of any man - & in so doing are, in fact, lamenting a fallen ideal (& our own fallen ideals) rather than considering the man in his position.

Nicholas himself may well have viewed it this way - he knew he was just a man but his people viewed him as so much more & expected more of him & while he struggled to reach their ideals, he knew he never could.

For this I pity him deeply. Who could ever live up to such expectations??
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by bluetoria »

Offline kmerov

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2005, 06:19:06 PM »
I keep reading about different members of the family trying to coup Nicky during WWI. But do any of you know which members of the family it was? And how true the rumors were?

Offline lexi4

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2005, 08:37:27 PM »
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According to Orthodox tradition, the Russian tsar was God's representative on earth. In other words he had what the Chinese called "Heaven's Mandate." To be tsar was to be the chosen one - God's gift to the Russian people -  and that's not a role you can lightly refuse. We know from his diary, and from his public and private statements, that Nicholas saw his life as predetermined. To be tsar was his destiny and his fate. He could not escape it: to try to do so would be like thwarting God's will.  

I agree and I wonder if Nicholas had an even stronger sense of this because he did have an older brother who died. Had that brother lived, Nicholas would not have been tsar. Both Nicholas and Alix had a stong convictions about doing "God's will." It comes out in their writings. I doubt that Nicholas ever even considered that he had a choice. What he did have was a strong sense of duty.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely, in a pretty and well preserved body; but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "Wow ---- What a ride!!!"

bluetoria

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2005, 06:57:22 AM »
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I agree and I wonder if Nicholas had an even stronger sense of this because he did have an older brother who died. Had that brother lived, Nicholas would not have been tsar.


Nicholas had an elder brother who died? Are you thinking of his father, Alexander?
Nicholas had two younger brothers who died - Alexander (born a year after Nicholas & died the next year) & Georgi (born 3 years after Nicholas & died in 1899).
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by bluetoria »

Offline lexi4

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2005, 04:50:25 PM »
Oops. You're right. I got confused. Sorry.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely, in a pretty and well preserved body; but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "Wow ---- What a ride!!!"

bluetoria

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #20 on: April 29, 2005, 06:20:43 PM »
It's easily done.... :) (Hope you didn't think I was being pedantic!  :))

I agree with you about Nicholas' strong sense of duty & that he felt he didn't have a choice. Doubtlessly he would have been far happier to enjoy a 'quiet life' & yet he accepted his position because he felt it was his duty.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by bluetoria »

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2005, 01:47:16 PM »
Why are we so harsh with Nicholas II? Is it because we consider events that happened during his reign to have been contingent upon his personality as well as his policies? After all, there were any number of rulers in imperial Russian history who were bloodier than "Bloody Nicholas" - Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, for example. There were rulers who were not only morally but also intellectually far worse than Nicholas II - Anna Ioannovna and Peter III. And there were tsars who wasted valuable time in not enacting much needed reforms - Nicholas I and Alexander III. Finally, there were dynamic leaders like Lenin and Trotsky who could be assigned an equal if not larger measure of blame for the form the Russian revolution eventually took. So why do we seem to blame Nicholas II for everything that went wrong in Russia both during and after his reign?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2005, 02:46:46 PM »
There was one question that was on the table during Nicholas' reign that was not on the table in any meaninful sense during the other reigns you mention (except for Alexander III's) -- is autocracy the right institution for governing the nation?

Nicholas certainly failed to convince people his answer was the correct one.  Whether he was to "blame" is a more relativistic question that is harder to answer.  I'm not sure any of the other rulers could have convinced people that autocracy was the right answer had the question been seriously posed, or even conceivable, in their times.  (Alexander III ducked the question by dying ahead of the buzzer.)  Can you "blame" a student for failing a test the rest of the class would have failed?  To say that you can, you have to be sure the test was fair.

Can one say Nicholas failed as a tsar?  Yes.  Can one say he is to blame?  That requires a value judgment I am not competent to make.


Offline hikaru

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #23 on: May 01, 2005, 03:04:30 PM »
Why we blame Nicholas?
Maybe , because there were nothing good during this reign which ended by horrible revolution?
I will try to compare:
1. Iwan the Terrible - he made the country a quite bigger
2. Peter the Great - he changed the county  and made a window to Europe.
3. Anna Ioanovna and Peter III - their reign period was not so long (maximum 10 years for Anna, which was ended by Court Revolution made by Elizaveth).
4. Nicholas I - He remarkably good cleared the Decabrist's case then he brought an order to Russian Empire. People became wealthy.
5. Alexandr III - No war with florished economy. Industrial boom have begun.
4. Nicholas II  - wars, revolutions, the people became more poor. On Nicholas times - 65% of russians could not read. If it was OK on Nicholas I times, it was not OK  in the beginning of 20th century. If Nichola's policy would be proper, Lenin could not win.
So why we blame Nicholas as well as his family,Ministers and all upper class, who did not fight much for Russia.






Offline pinklady

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2005, 07:49:45 AM »
While Nicholas is certainly not to blame for the history before him,(and he inherited problems of course) he did have 23 years of his own to try and change things and make a difference. That is a long time, when you think here in Australia a Prime Minister is only in Government for 3 years and then has to be re elected by the people.
Nicholas had his 2 decades without even worrying about elections, he could have changed things more for the better and made a difference, sadly all he is remembered for is Russia's "Last Tsar." ( and good family man blah blah blah)

Offline etonexile

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2005, 09:48:48 AM »
In fairness to Nicholas and his regime...things were changing in Russia by 1914....They had the 5th fastest growing economy in Europe....Things would most likely have continued to change into the teens and 20's,including the role of autocracy....iSadly, the great debacle of WWI hadn't exhausted Russia and opened the way to Marxism and the Soviet nightmare....

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #26 on: May 02, 2005, 11:16:08 AM »
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Why we blame Nicholas?
Maybe , because there were nothing good during this reign which ended by horrible revolution?
I will try to compare:
1. Iwan the Terrible - he made the country a quite bigger


Some would not call this a blessing, given the tremendous, long-term problems attached to governing such a vast geographic area. But more specifically, Ivan IV subjugated the boyar class (a check on autocratic power thus eliminated), fatally weakened the Orthodox church (another check on autocratic power gone), subjected the country to a reign of terror that set a dangerous precedent with its separate co-existent police state (the oprichnina), and bankrupted the nation with his disastrous and unnecessary Livonian War. Additionally, he killed his heir and left a succession problem that led directly to the Time of Troubles.  

Quote
2. Peter the Great - he changed the county  and made a window to Europe.


Historians have already demonstrated that Russia during the reign of Alexei was on the road to Westernizing - albeit very gradually and incrementally. What Peter did was to compress a century's worth of gradual change into one extremely violent and turbulent reign - he inflicted on the nation a revolution from above, the first of many to be endured by the Russian people. In doing so, he left a schism between the upper, Westernized classes and the majority of the population, who became ever more deeply enmeshed in serfdom. This is not to denigrate Peter's accomplishments but to put them into a larger perspective. Peter's goal was for Russia to be a European power - not the better welfare of his people.

Peter also failed to solve the problem of administering such a vast empire (which he had added on to with his conquests against Sweden) and left a succession problem of his own. Additionally, he succeeded in demolishing the Orthodox Church as an institution separate from the state, completing the destructive job that Ivan the Terrible had started. Some may applaud this, until it is remembered that in the West, the Church played a pivotal role in the development of institutional checks on the authoritarian power of kings.

Quote
3. Anna Ioanovna and Peter III - their reign period was not so long (maximum 10 years for Anna, which was ended by Court Revolution made by Elizaveth).


True enough, but the nobles attempted (and failed) to put checks on autocratic power at the outset of Anna's reign; and Peter III ended obligatory state service for the nobility - a concession which even Catherine the Great did not dare go back on.

Quote
4. Nicholas I - He remarkably good cleared the Decabrist's case then he brought an order to Russian Empire. People became wealthy.


Nicholas I was well aware that serfdom was a liability to a modern European state. He even formed a special committee to look into abolishing it. But he hesitated to take the final step.

He also got Russia into the catastrophic Crimean War - in which Russia's weakness and ill-preparedness demonstrated that broad-sweeping reforms were urgently needed and had been too long delayed.

Quote
5. Alexandr III - No war with florished economy. Industrial boom have begun.


Forcible Russification of ethnic minorities, including the Poles, Finns and Balts; clampdown on the zemstva, those organs of local self-government that might have saved the monarchy in the end, if they had only been encouraged to develop; increasing poverty and indebtedness of the nobility and peasantry; increasing radicalization of the Russian intelligentsia and elites.

I guess my point is that the unravelling of the Russian autocracy took centuries to achieve, and that many if not most of the problems Nicholas II inherited were endemic and had gone unsolved by generations of rulers before him. I think it's expecting a bit much that one man would be able to overcome such enormous difficulties in the space of a single reign - at most, I think even a genius (which Nicholas clearly was not) could only have delayed the March Revolution by twenty years or so.  


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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #27 on: May 02, 2005, 11:28:08 AM »
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There was one question that was on the table during Nicholas' reign that was not on the table in any meaninful sense during the other reigns you mention (except for Alexander III's) -- is autocracy the right institution for governing the nation?


Actually I think this question was on the table as early as the reign of Anna Ioannovna, when the nobles unsuccessfully attempted to place limits on autocratic power with the establishment of a Supreme Council. The Russian nobility always had a vested interest in curbing the power of the tsar, otherwise you would not have seen one Romanov ruler after another making hard-won concessions to the nobility, or for that matter, falling from power in palace coups.

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Nicholas certainly failed to convince people his answer was the correct one.  Whether he was to "blame" is a more relativistic question that is harder to answer.  I'm not sure any of the other rulers could have convinced people that autocracy was the right answer had the question been seriously posed, or even conceivable, in their times.  (Alexander III ducked the question by dying ahead of the buzzer.)  Can you "blame" a student for failing a test the rest of the class would have failed?  To say that you can, you have to be sure the test was fair.


But what if the test had been different? Not about autocracy but entirely different? After all, you seemed to suggest in your posts in the "Nicholas: Negative Attributes" thread that a great man (or woman) could have succeeded in transforming the Russian autocracy into a real and viable constitutional monarchy that would have survived well into the twentieth century. I continue to have my doubts about this. Rather, I continue to doubt whether such a success would have made much of a difference in the long run. Perhaps it would have prevented the October Revolution. But perhaps, given the extreme radical fringe of the intelligentsia and the vast peasant "problem," it would not have made much of a difference at all? I honestly don't know, but I suspect the latter.
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #28 on: May 02, 2005, 12:39:30 PM »
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Actually I think this question was on the table as early as the reign of Anna Ioannovna, when the nobles unsuccessfully attempted to place limits on autocratic power with the establishment of a Supreme Council.


Were they really trying to limit autocratic power or to counterweigh what they felt to be the dastardly influence of the German contingent on that power?

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The Russian nobility always had a vested interest in curbing the power of the tsar, otherwise you would not have seen one Romanov ruler after another making hard-won concessions to the nobility, or for that matter, falling from power in palace coups.


I don't know that a monarch's making concessions to the nobility necessarily signals a serious attempt by any party to undermine autocracy.  Take Louis XIV, for example.  His reign is viewed as the apogee of royal absolutism in Western Europe.  Yet he constantly negotiated the shoals of entrenched interests such as feudal rights and the notoriously corrupt and inefficient tax farm.  As a consequence, he left France riddled with a hodge-podge of administrative compromises, all in the name of avoiding a frontal assault on the concept of absolutism that would reveal it as a facade obscuring the real way things got decided.  Neither the monarchy nor the nobility wanted any public cracks in that facade.  The nobility did not want to change the way things got done.  They just wanted to stack the decision-making deck in their favor.  I don't think the situation in Russia was much different.

The palace coups do not strike me as having been about curbing autocratic power so much as about putting onto the throne those who would use that power more in alignment with the interests of those staging the coup.  I am not aware of any serious attempts to curb autocracy being embedded in Elizabeth's coup, Catherine II's coup, or Paul's murder.

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But what if the test had been different? Not about autocracy but entirely different? After all, you seemed to suggest in your posts in the "Nicholas: Negative Attributes" thread that a great man (or woman) could have succeeded in transforming the Russian autocracy into a real and viable constitutional monarchy that would have survived well into the twentieth century. I continue to have my doubts about this. Rather, I continue to doubt whether such a success would have made much of a difference in the long run. Perhaps it would have prevented the October Revolution. But perhaps, given the extreme radical fringe of the intelligentsia and the vast peasant "problem," it would not have made much of a difference at all? I honestly don't know, but I suspect the latter.


I don't know either.  I suspect the former, but until someone gives me autocratic power and a time machine, I'll never be able to test my proposition.  (I do have a habit of pontificating most on those topics where I can be tested least.  Oh, well . . . .)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Tsarfan »

Offline hikaru

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #29 on: May 02, 2005, 01:03:31 PM »
All what Elisabeth said about others russian rulers are right - everybody has negative points - only foolish have not.
But nobody of the above mentioned Tsars, did not lead Russia to crush as Nicholas II did.
Thats it.
Vilhelm (he did not like Nicholas much but)
said : " It is impossible to rule Russia by playing lawn tennis so much and often as  Nicholas did"
Maybe Nicholas was appropriate for England (Europe),
but not for Russia.